Whether he becomes the first overall pick for his hometown Cleveland Browns or is taken lower in the first round of Thursday’s NFL draft, former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky knows what his first post-draft purchase will be.
“I’m going to get a new phone after the draft,” Trubisky said late Wednesday afternoon during a 15-minute interview from said phone.
With a new number?
“Yeah, definitely,” Trubisky said, and laughed.
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While Trubisky’s cell didn’t exactly go silent this week after he arrived in Philadelphia, he stopped seeing the numbers he recognized as NFL scouts and coaches who have hit him up repeatedly over the past several months.
This was the calm before the commotion of Thursday night, when the right-hander who started just 13 games for the Tar Heels could join Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and a long line of other quarterbacks who were the No. 1 pick.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported the Browns are split between taking Trubisky or Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett with the first pick.
Trubisky said he hadn’t heard from the Browns – or any other team, for that matter – over the past 24 hours.
But after making an appearance at an NFL Play 60 event and tucking into a cheesesteak at his Philadelphia hotel, Trubisky had several interviews to do.
“My phone’s not quiet,” he said. “It’s just quiet from the teams.”
The big question
Trubisky believes he did a good job addressing the questions he received from scouts and coaches, namely: “Why did it take you three years to become a starter at North Carolina?”
The short answer, which Trubisky provided ad nauseam at the scouting combine, is that he played behind a good college quarterback in Marquise Williams, but still thought he should have been playing.
Trubisky made the most of those 13 starts, breaking the school’s single-season records for passing yards (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056). He threw at least three touchdowns seven times, and also ran for five scores.
He and ACC compatriot Deshaun Watson are the top of a quarterback class that has been widely panned by draft experts. And while Watson played for two national championships, winning one, for Clemson, Trubisky went 8-5 as a starter last season after Williams departed.
Watson says there’s no debate over who the best quarterback is, saying this week any team that picks Trubisky over him will “have to live with the consequences.”
Trubisky wasn’t interested in getting into it with Watson.
“I really didn’t think too much of it,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to do me.”
The end of one journey ...
On Wednesday that meant promoting a Hyundai-sponsored program dubbed “Rolling with the Rookies.” The Korean car manufacturer sent a film crew to the hometowns of Trubisky and three other prospects – O.J. Howard, Mike Williams and Haason Reddick – to highlight their journeys to the NFL.
In Trubisky’s case that meant a trip to Mentor, Ohio, the suburban Cleveland city where Trubisky began as a ball boy at Mentor High before going on to become the first Cleveland-area quarterback to throw for 9,000 career yards.
Despite – or because of – his proximity to Cleveland, Trubisky said he never grew up dreaming of playing for the Browns. He just wanted to make the NFL.
He was born in 1994 – the last year the Browns won a playoff game. But he says he wouldn’t feel a burden playing for his hometown team, with its infamous quarterback history.
“I don’t think the pressure would be too much. ... No pressure on the outside is greater than the pressure I put on myself,” he said. “So I definitely think I’ll be able to handle whatever comes next.”
Trubisky has about 30 friends and family members with him in Philly, and is looking forward to celebrating with his parents and siblings after his name is called Thursday – “hopefully, sooner rather than later.”
He has already celebrated one milestone this month: Trubisky was in Chapel Hill when the Tar Heels’ basketball team beat Gonzaga to win the NCAA title.
“I got to storm Franklin Street and really enjoy the chaos after we won the national championship,” Trubisky said.
But there’s more craziness in the months ahead for Trubisky, who will be part of some team’s rookie minicamp at this time next week.
The former Tar Heel will have a new team, (maybe) a new home – and a new phone.